Hanover-Horton High School player Jack Brockie (5) attempts to stop Erie Mason’s Joe Liedel during the Division 3 quarterfinal game at Tecumseh High School on Tuesday.
By Jeff Steers
Too many turnovers, too much Joe Liedel, and one too many losses spelled the end of the Hanover-Horton High School boys basketball season.
The Comets lost to Erie Mason 55-48 Tuesday in the Michigan High School Athletic Association Division 3 quarterfinals at a standing-room-only arena at Tecumseh High School.
Hanover-Horton finishes the season with a 23-2 mark – having only one loss during the regular season.
Erie Mason will play undefeated Pewamo-Westphalia in the Division 3 semifinals Thursday at the Jack Breslin Student Events Center on the campus of Michigan State University.
“We feel bad right now because we had such a great season,” HHHS Coach Chad Mortimer said after the loss. “What hurts is we didn’t play our best tonight.”
Mortimer said the Comets turned the ball over 20 times in the quarterfinal game – a dozen more than their average.
“You can’t give Liedel and that team 20 extra possessions,” Mortimer said. “Our goal was to keep them under 50 points.”
Liedel, a junior, went off on the Comets scoring 40 points in the Erie Mason victory. He was hot from the start scoring all 11 of the Eagles’ points in the first quarter.
But Hanover-Horton also had a hot hand in Mitch Sauber. The junior also scored 11 points in the first quarter as Erie Mason left him unguarded a number of times.
Sauber hit the shots giving the Comets a 17-11 first quarter lead after a slow start.
Turnovers began to mount in the second quarter as the Comets were outscored 16-9. Liedel again scored 11 points giving him 22 points at halftime.
“We knew he was going to shoot a lot,” Mortimer said. “We released him too much (on defense) and gave him space.
“You can’t do that against a scorer.”
Hanover-Horton trailed by one point at halftime and 40-37 at the end of the third quarter.
The Comets took brief leads at 41-40 and 43-42 on baskets by Donovon Kennedy and Rhett Laketa. But Erie Mason would go on to outscore the Comets 13-5 in the final four minutes of action spurred by Liedel. The junior scored 10 of the final 13 points for Erie Mason.
Sauber finished with a team-high 20 points and three steals for Hanover-Horton. Rhett Laketa scored six points and pulled down five rebounds and Luc Laketa tallied five points and finished with eight rebounds for the Comets.
Jack Brockie and Kennedy also scored six points apiece for HHHS.
The game marked the career end for seniors Kennedy and Jeremy VanEpps.
“They were both big parts of this team,” Mortimer said. “Both will be missed.” But with eight juniors and three sophomores listed on the roster, HHHS could be back in the same position next season.
“This may make us a little hungrier,” Mortimer said. “But when we look back at the season, we celebrated three championships.”